Madeline Chambers, Reuters, January 12, 2016
German ministers outlined plans on Tuesday to speed up the deportation of foreigners who commit crimes, responding to sexual attacks on women by migrants in Cologne which have deepened doubts about the country’s open-door refugee policy.
Under plans unveiled by conservative Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere and Social Democrat (SPD) Justice Minister Heiko Maas, foreigners who are found guilty of committing physical and sexual assaults, resisting police or damaging property, could be deported.
Under current law, most of these crimes carry probationary sentences and do not trigger expulsion.
On Monday night, more than 200 masked right-wing supporters, carrying placards with racist overtones, went on a rampage in the eastern city of Leipzig, throwing fireworks, breaking windows and vandalizing buildings, police said.
That took place at the same time as roughly 2,000 anti-Muslim protesters marched peacefully in the city center and chanted “Merkel must go”. They held placards showing the chancellor in a Muslim veil and reading “Merkel, take your Muslims with you and get lost”.
More than 600 women have complained of being attacked on New Years Eve in Cologne and other German cities. The complaints range from sexual molestation to theft and police have said their investigations are focused on illegal migrants from north Africa as well as asylum seekers.
Social tensions have already bubbled to the surface with almost daily attacks on refugee shelters.
On Monday evening, the group of right-wingers who vandalized part of Leipzig held a placard reading “Leipzig bleibt Helle”, or “Leipzig stays light”, an apparent reference to the skin color of residents.